That discussion title sounds outrageous but it is actually true! AirBNB is showing burglars exactly where our homes are without ever having to do the booking and in our listing photos we are showing burglars all the nice things in our homes to steal.
Go to AirBNB and search for a home or private room. DO NOT click to select a listing. On the right side click "Show Map" to turn on the map display. Now zoom in and zoom in and zoom in on the map .. until you see street names. Then slide the map around until you see a dollar sign icon for a listing.
The dollar sign marker for YOUR house is right on the exact street name where you live. Now AirBNB will tell you that it is not right on your house. But guess what? It is very close to your house and all a burglar has to do is go to that spot on that street and look for a house that matches the photo of the front of your house. And if you do not include a photo of the front of your house all they have to do is go and watch for someone coming out of the house that looks like the photo of the host. And we all have host profile photos that are close up head and shoulder photos that very clearly show what we look like. Burglars are of course stupid to be criminals but make no mistake they are crafty and smart enough to figure out what became obvious to me seeing the search map function.
Now go to Google search and type in "Burglars use AirBNB to target homes" and you will see about 200,000+ search results.
I have shown this dangerous and irresponsible flaw in the AirBNB search map system to managers at AirBNB no less than 10 times over the last year and they have not lifted one finger to fix it to protect us from being robbed. I even gave they the perfect and simply solution to fix it. Show a red shaded circle on the map that represents a certain number of mile radius. As you zoom in and out on the map it tells you the mile radius currently represented. Then below the map in rows and columns show all of the dollar sign icons that can be clicked to view homes within the represented mile radius on the map.
SO PROTECT YOURSELVES FROM AIRBNB - They obviously do not care one bit if we get robbed. AirBNB is NEVER GOING TO GET IT and never going to change their map function .. I have given up. Maybe if a thousand hosts comment on this discussion demanding they fix it, that might work. I doubt it though but maybe if 10,000 hosts comment on this discussion SCREAMING at them? If you are reading this and care please comment.
TO PROTECT YOURSELF
1) If you have a photo of the front of your house, remove it immediately.
2) Removing your profile photo or replacing it with one that is hard to tell what you look like may not be something that will prove heloful to your booking rate.
The only 100% safe solution is to delete your listing and rebuild a new listing using an address that is not your actual house address. Use an address that is several blocks away and in an obviously different neighborhood when looking at the street map for your area. Use a street address that is not actually a house address that exists. You can use Zillow to see what the house numbers are on a street and then use a street number between the numbers that do exist. This is so that you do not bother another resident with people knocking on their door in the rare event that a booked guest does not follow your instructions you provide with the correct house address.
Doing this of course will requre that you send a message to every guest that completes a booking to give them the correct house address. It is actually easy to do and has just become a simple step I now do. I just copy the message I sent to the last guest and send it to the new booked guest.
Below is exactly what I write to each guest after they book if you want to adopt the text for your own use. I felt it was important to explain to a guest the reason the address is different so that they are not concerned but actually relieved knowing that they do not have to worry about the possiblilty of a burglar breaking in while they are staying at the home. I tried several types of explanations and the one below that I now use produces 100% "no problem" responses from guests.
Please reply to confirm you got this message with the correct house address I am providing below in this message.
Please ignore the address to Airbnb gives you. It is a few blocks over in the same neighborhood. Burglars use the Airbnb search results map to find homes to rob and so far Airbnb has refused to fix it so we had to use a different address on our listing to protect ourselves.
The correct House address is XXX Street Name, City, State, Zip. The house address numbers are on a lighted sign above the garage doors on the right side
.... And then whatever else you want to say to welcome them to your home .....
Not sure about anyone else but if I was a burglar looking for a place to rob I would not really be targetting empty holiday rentals listed on airBNB which are unlikely to have anything valuable in them.....mind you burglars are not that bright are they?
No idea what the percentages are on AirBNB but many of us live in our homes and rent some of the bedrooms on AirBNB while I suppose other have empty holiday rentals. And some of us have very expensive things in our homes.
What better place to find homes to rob that a website that shows pictures of all of the goodies inside a house, pictures ot plan entry and exit points, pictures that maybe show alarm systems or not, etc. AND the website company AirBNB shows a map right to the house.
Neil I suppose you feel it is perfectly ok for AirBNB to reveal where our homes are to people who have not booked yet?
I agree with you. I iwn a multi million dollar home in NY and i have quality furnishings in the unit and I dont nwwd that kind of problem for the small amount of profit!!! THank you for sharing the light,Im getting ready to change the addree util I have cinfirmed a booking will not disclose the actual address!! Thank you>P)
@Alan This really seems like a stretch. Why would the robbers want to rob an Airbnb specifically? TVs and other electronics are pretty low dollar value items on resale, and what else is likely to be in there for them to rob?
Maybe I'm not understanding the perceived risk.
Frankly, if I got that email from a host, I'd think they had forgotten to wear their tinfoil hat that day.
@Letti I would think it would be much easier to rob a regular house, where people tend to have the same vehicles parked out front, predictable schedules, etc. By contrast, my Airbnb guests have completely erratic schedules and may or may not have a vehicle to indicate that they're there.
@Alexandra Why would robbers rob an AirBNB? What better place to find homes to rob that a website that shows pictures of all of the goodies inside a house, pictures to plan entry and exit points, pictures that maybe show alarm systems or not, etc. AND the website company AirBNB shows a map right to the house.
Many of us on AirBNB live in million dollar plus homes filled with a million dollars of goodies.
Google search "airbnb burglary" and today there are 186,000 search results. So I guess there a lot of AirBNB's getitng robbed because they forgot to wear their tinfoil hats!
Worry Scale? I do not worry at all because I do not use my correct house address on AirBNB but anyone that has nice valuable things in their home had better worry.
I think the better question is why would someone post pictures of all the nice things in their home and a picture of themself on the AirBNB website that shows exactly where the house is located when the interent has 186,000 search results for the search term "airbnb burglary"
I got robbed twice in my lifetime and I can tell you it is NOT a pleasant experience. And robberies when the home owner is home many times ends in the homeowner being assaulted or killed by the burglar.
Burglary is a serious topic and the replies thus far shed light on how many AirBNB hosts are completely unaware of how many AirBNB's are being burglarized out there every year.
@AlanI am not a theif (nor have played one in TV); but if I was one this is what I would do and they definitely do. They go to 'better neighborhoods' with homes full of riches, and observe the owner's pattern, note the owner's schedule and then visit it when no one is around, especially on rainy days/nights).
They can also find the same information about a home on Airbnb, on VRBO and just about all the other booking sites. Or look-up listings of still living-in houses for sale showing everything inside on any real estate web site.
Having said that - the not-showing-the outside point, IF you are that worried, is a good point.
The point that it is Airbnb who doesn't care borders on a very cynical assumption; after all, the point why the location of a house is shown on Airbnb is so the guests could actually find it!
@Fred Thanks for joining in on the topic.
First and to everyone reading and contributing to this discussion ..
1) What I am finding interesting is that nobody seems to care that AirBNB is showing people how to find our homes BEFORE the person completes a booking? AirBNB promises in their materials that the location of our homes will only be given to completed bookings.
2) It is also intersting that noone seems to think it is completely unneccesary to have a serach tool designed the way it is when they could easily change it so there are not markers on the map shown right in front of our homes and stop showing people where are homes are BEFORE they book. 99% to 100% of all guests just need to know that the home is in the general area they need to be. For argument purposes lets say 1% only want to book a home that is on an exact street name and at a certain precise spot on that street.
3) It is finally interesting that there seems to be little concern yet a simple google search shows tens of thousands of AirBNB homes being robbed.
Listing a home for sale it is unavoidable that photos and location of the home is disclosed to everyone. However, in a decent economy it is typically only a few months and the home is sold whereas some of use to AirBNB for years. If you are smart when your selling your home your valuables will be put away or removed form the home and you will be especially on guard until the home sells. That good point about real estate listing of yoru home has absolutley nothing to do with AirBNB not keeping their promise of not disclosing teh locaiton of our home until a booking is completed.
The reason I say AirBNB does not care is two-fold.
1) I have shown managers no less than 10 times that contrary to their promise to us they ARE showing the location of our home prior to someone booking. I have also given them the simple solution to change the map so that it still serves guests searching for a home perfectly and at the same time no longer showing the locaitons of our homes prior to booking.
2) 186,000 search results for "airbnb burglary" is an obvious public relations nightmare yet they still will not fix the search results map.
On the point of burglars going to better neghborhoods .. THAT is my neighborhood. But the point your missing is that AirBNB listings show nice photos of everything inside the home and even the ability to see if there are alarm systems and the ability to plan exctly where to quickly go thorugh teh home to get in and out quick, etc. A HUGE advantage to a burglar over a home that they cannot see inside .. And THAT is teh obvious reason burglars are using AirBNB to research and target homes to rob .. and hence teh 186,000 serahc results many of which say that exatc same thing.
@Alan You do make a very good point, that showing the exact location before actually booking is indeed unnecessary. I could see that, considering in this new information world, too much information can be dangerous.
@Alan If I book a place to stay on Airbnb and after the payment is finished the host tells me to ignore the adress and come to a different place i am contacting Airbnb at that exact moment and canceling the reservation. And I am pretty sure that is against Airbnb policy. What about the other adress you are using? I guess someone lives there, would you be ok with someone using your adress just to falsely advertise their property?